Sources and Resources — A Newsletter for Criminal Justice and Related Professionals
The BCCJA is a not for profit association of criminal justice and related professionals which has been fostering debate, dialogue, providing advocacy and advancing current and best practices for 40 years. Visit our website at www.bccja.com.
The purpose of this newsletter is to provide information of professional interest to our members and colleagues. Let us know your thoughts and ideas and if you would like to be put on our distribution list at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have devoted the last four issues to highlighting topic areas for our upcoming Congress. In the current issue, we return to our more traditional format and topic areas. If you would like to see us provide more attention to specific criminal-justice areas or topics, please drop us a line and let us know at email@example.com. As always, we welcome your feedback, complimentary and corrective.
Congress 2013, Coming Right Up: October 2-5
Our readers know about Congress 2013 in Vancouver, B.C. The June 2013 edition of this newsletter was devoted entirely to the content of each session. If you access the June issue (link on right under Recent Editions), the outstanding line-up will be at your fingertips. You know you want to attend, so register here. Registrants might like to know that you can show your conference badge at any of the restaurants, retail outlets, attractions, etc listed on this page to receive discounts and special offers. You can find other BC travel deals here.
|Criminal Justice Policy (21 items)||Victims of Crime (6 items)|
|Criminal Justice System (12 items)||Sexual Offenders (8 items)|
|The Law and Courts (16 items)||Mental Health (11 items)|
|Police (10 items)||Related Interest (12 items)|
|Children and Youth (24 items)||Did You Know?|
|Corrections and Community (23 items)||Important Sources and Resources|
|Criminal Behavior (19 items)|
Upcoming Conferences and events!
- The Consensus Development Conference on Legal Issues of FASD will be held in Edmonton, Alberta, from September 18 – 20, 2013. The conference aims to bring experts together to address specific key questions and legal issues for FASD.
- The Spirit Justice: Global Indigenous Restorative Justice Conference will be held November 3-6, 2013 in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
- The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers will hold its annual conference in Chicago from Oct 30 – Nov 2, 2013. You can review the presentation abstracts and register at the ATSA site.
Criminal Justice Policy
- Vancouver’s progressive approach to drug addiction over the past 15 years is working, says a major report.
- A new report has shown that that Vancouver’s safe injection site is successful at reducing illicit drug use and improving public health and safety. Now, Toronto is considering a similar service.
- Proposed Bill C-54, which would change aspects of being found Not Criminally Responsible, has been widely criticized. Here is an opinion piece and the views of the Correctional Investigator.
- Nova Scotia has introduced legislation designed to curb cyber bullying. While reaction to these efforts has been largely positive, some feel that it will accomplish little and may “make bullies of us all“.
- Further to the issue of children’s safety on the internet, this writer suggests that Canada should follow the British example to keep kids safe online.
- This document, released by the US Attorney General, describes five goals and principles for implementing a new smart-on-crime approach. Towards the end of the document, you will find a series of new initiatives to better protect children.
- In its first “smart-on-crime” initiative, the US government has introduced policies that will result in shorter sentences for some drug offenders. Reaction to these policy changes has been largely positive, both from the left and the right, including a prominent Tea Party legislator. However, some believe that the changes are insufficient to fix a “broken” system.
- Arguing that Bill C-10 puts Canada in lockstep with outdated and failed tough-on-crime policies, this editorial wonders whether the US’s new smart on crime initiative is grounds for second thoughts in Canada.
- Some claim that Canada’s ‘tough-on-crime’ policy is responsible for declining crime rates. This editorial piece strongly disagrees.
- Advocates, politicians and stakeholders are at odds over whether a Canadian bill of rights for victims of crime will deliver enhanced justice – or just be an empty gesture.
- This author provides an overview of two recent Justice Canada reports on the application of the Gladue decision and drug courts. You can access these two reports (and many other criminal justice reports) at the Justice Department website.
- Conservatives in the U.S. are increasingly arguing that more “liberal” criminal justice system reform will reduce crime and save money. This website provides a range of background material and philosophical underpinnings of this movement. And here is a story about a conservative Republican’s conversion to this way of thinking.
- The United Nations is calling for a robust international criminal justice system, which gives a much-needed voice to the victims of the world’s most serious crimes and holds to account the often elusive perpetrators.
- Tough on crime policies do not make people feel safer, says this Australian Institute report, and ironically can increase anxiety levels. See the full report here.
- To keep crime rates declining, governments should focus on prevention, not punishment says this think piece in The Economist.
- Crime is an economic development issue says this author and needs to be approached in that context.
- These authors make the argument that effective criminal justice policy requires an investment in research to ensure we find new, innovative and effective approaches.
- Research is suggesting that city zoning strategies can have an impact on crime.
- The Isle of Man’s criminal justice system is set to undergo significant reform as part of the drive to make it better, faster, simpler and more cost efficient.
- A recently introduced US Senate bill adopts a novel approach to gun control: ban only those types of guns used to commit crimes.
- B.C. health officials are keeping a close watch on New Zealand as it experiments with a novel drug law that could legalize designer party drugs in a bid to make them safer.
Criminal Justice System
- Statistics Canada has reported that crime rates and crime severity continue to decline in Canada. Their report on crimes reported to police in 2012 is available here.
- As in Canada and the US, crime rates in the UK seem to be on the decline. This article discusses some of the possible reasons.
- This article discusses some of the relationships and challenges between the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court.
- This paper attempts to answer the question: What is international criminal justice?
- This author analyses challenges to implementing international criminal justice in Africa.
- Here is an interesting perspective on the current state of the criminal justice system in China.
- An increasing number of violent crimes in the UK are being resolved through a community-based restorative justice approach.
- This opinion piece explains why the US criminal justice system is in crisis including too many laws, harsh policing and excessive use of incarceration.
- Two recent events are seen by some observers as an important “sea change” in the US approach to criminal justice.
- This author argues that the criminal justice system remains more lenient when dealing with women.
- Here is a compilation of the top 20 events and developments that have changed the way we think about crime.
- The US continues to lead the world in rate of incarceration. Here are the incarceration rates for 223 countries. Click on each country to see additional data including percent of remand cases, women and juveniles.
The Law and Courts
- Two recent Ontario Court of Appeals decisions are helping to further clarify rules about admissibility of evidence.
- The requirement for corroborating evidence in criminal trials could be abolished as part of changes to Scotland’s justice system.
- The US Supreme Court has upheld police taking a DNA sample from all those arrested.
- The Supreme Court has determined that Canadian police forces will need to obtain search warrants to read cellphone text messages.
- The Supreme Court of Canada is to consider whether searching an unlocked cell phone during arrest requires a search warrant or is within a police officer’s authority.
- The New Jersey Supreme Court has decided that, just because police can track a person through their mobile phone does not mean they are legally entitled to do so. The author notes that recent Canadian court decisions seem to be moving away from providing such privacy guarantees.
- The Canadian government’s request that the Supreme Court clarify the government’s powers to reform or abolish the Senate may take some time to resolve.
- Restorative justice for First Nations is underway in Kamloops BC. A panel of elders advises the sentencing judge on appropriate sentences focusing on a restorative justice model.
- A Nunavut judge provides an interesting view of the Court’s role in the process and rationale for plea bargaining.
- Can lawyers be healers rather than aggressive adversaries to meet the needs of clients? Interesting question.
- A recent report by the Canadian Bar Association says that many lawyers will be out of work if the profession doesn’t radically reform how it does business.
- The British government is planning cuts to legal aid services. These proposals have been criticized by the legal community.
- Canada’s tough-on-crime strategy, provincial initiatives to reduce court backlogs, and the hiring of more judges and prosecutors are triggering a legal-aid funding crunch.
- A new report from the Canadian Bar Association describes access to justice in Canada as “abysmal” and calls for more than “quick fix” solutions.
- A recent national survey has concluded that most Americans consider the criminal justice and court systems to be unfair. You can access the detailed survey data here.
- The USA and Canada are trying to establish a joint perimeter security scheme to allow border officials to operate in the other country. However, the US wants its officers to be exempt from compliance with Canadian Law.
- The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police say ticketing illegal possession of small amounts of marijuana would be more efficient than laying criminal charges. The federal government says it will consider the recommendation.
- The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has called on the government to provide better mental health services so that police do not become de-facto front-line mental health providers.
- Video footage of the fatal Toronto police shooting of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim has raised questions about the adequacy of police training in dealing with the mentally ill.
- Following the shooting of Sammy Yatim, the Ontario government has decided to expand the use of tasers by police. Some are calling the decision a “knee jerk reaction”.
- Police forces are increasingly using software to predict crimes. This raises the constitutional question: Does a computer prediction of where a crime may happen constitute probable cause to intervene?
- The article looks at the UK experience with closed circuit TV monitoring public places (they currently have over 5 million such cameras) and speculates on the future of CCTV.
- Beset with allegations of racial profiling by police, the Los Angeles Police Department have set up an experimental mediation process to deal with charges of racism.
- The West Yorkshire police have set up a series of public web chats to improve service to the public by better informing and addressing questions and concerns.
- Here is an interesting challenge: If crime rates are dropping, should we be cutting police budgets?
- An American student who was held in a DEA jail cell for 5 days without food or water after a drug sweep gets $4.1 million.
Children and Youth
- The McCreary Centre Society has just released the results of their third survey of youth in custody. The report includes data from 114 young people aged 12-19 who were in custody between August 2012 and January 2013. To read the media release, please click here. To download a copy of the report, please click here.
- Human Rights Watch has issued an important report detailing the impacts, largely negative, of listing children on sex offender registries. You can access the full report here.
- A report to the United Nations calls for a thoughtful approach to dealing with children in criminal justice systems including making deprivation of liberty a last-resort measure.
- Ontario’s provincial advocate for child and youth is calling for independent investigation of alleged problems at a new youth facility. The provincial advocate’s full report is available here.
- Our readers will have noticed that many jurisdictions (in the US and beyond) are revising juvenile justice policies to reduce the use of incarceration. Here is a recent report that reviews the experiences and results of the nine states that are leading this movement in the US.
- This article overviews the growing movement to reduce incarceration for juvenile offenders in favor of community-based programs that cost less, decrease re-offending and improve youth and family well-being.
- The MacArthur Foundation is funding four juvenile justice reform centres to help promote change in this important policy area.
- Here are some of the jurisdictions that are actively engaged in juvenile justice policy reform:
- The Nebraska legislature has passed legislation to focus on mental health treatment and rehabilitation instead of punishment
- There is growing pressure in Florida for legislation to fix a juvenile justice system that over-criminalizes youthful behavior and treats children as adults.
- Georgia has passed legislation that will seek to provide more non-incarceration options for juveniles.
- Hawaii is considering revisions to their juvenile justice system that would reduce incarceration and provide more treatment services.
- Queensland Australia has released a report on reforming their juvenile justice system. However, the Queensland government is considering removing the principle that detention should be the last resort
- India’s Chief Justice has stressed the importance of revising that country’s juvenile justice system.
- Scotland introduced changes to its juvenile justice system two years ago to reduce incarceration while increasing treatment services. The changes are apparently working well as juvenile crime appears to be down about 49%.
- Recent changes to New Zealand’s youth criminal justice system that aim to keep offenders out of the court system appear to be successful as youth crime rates continue to drop.
- Although crimes by and incarceration of juveniles in California have dropped dramatically, concern is raised that improving economic conditions may have a negative effect on these gains.
- A group called Campaign for Youth Justice has released a report calling for greater involvement of families in the juvenile justice system.
- Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network’s (PREVNet) mission is to stop bullying. Here is PREVNet’s advice to government’s about preventing bullying.
- Chicago is anticipating the re-opening of schools where closures have forced children to pass through rival gang territory to get to school. The Chicago Public Schools have designated safe passage routes and literally will paint the streets to identify these routes.
- This author says that fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is preventable but that lack of treatment makes an adolescent 19 times more likely to have a run-in with the law.
- Childhood anxiety is often misdiagnosed. The chemical reaction known as fight-or-flight explains resistance and needs to be understood for what it is, says this author.
- A new study has found that youths who said they frequently consume booze or pot were up to five times more likely than abstinent youths to report having suffered at least one traumatic brain injury that left them unconscious for at least five minutes or hospitalized overnight.
- Poverty and crime contribute to an ‘uncertain outlook’ for the Milwaukee public schools which has 79,000 students, an estimated 20% of whom are special needs students.
- Adults’ hyper-vigilance about strangers hurts children – and everyone else writes columnist Douglas Todd, in this think piece.
Corrections and Community
- This report from the Vera Institute considers how community corrections needs to be transformed. A summary version of the report is available.
- This research research report from the UK documents the health and service needs of an aging prison population and identifies areas for improvement in policy and service.
- The Ontario Ombudsman has released a report on violence in Ontario jails. In part, the report implicates jail guards as instigating and covering up violence; the guards’ union disagrees.
- The Bureau of Justice Statistics has released a report documenting the rates of sexual victimization in adult penal facilities. Some argue that assaults against juvenile offenders housed in adult facilities are under-reported. Also, the Bureau has released a report on the prevalence of sexual victimization in juvenile justice facilities where rates are about three times higher than rates reported in adult facilities.
- This report considers the global growth of private prisons, and analyzes whether the promise of lower-cost, effective corrections has been achieved.
- This comprehensive report considers the private prison experience in the US.
- The Corrections Corporation of America has paid $600,000 to inmates at a Colorado prison as a result of injuries caused by prison staff. At the same time, allegations of mismanagement are leading a growing number of States to sever their ties with the Corrections Corporation of America.
- While Public Safety Canada and Correctional Services Canada officials agree that jobs-training program in prison needs to prepare inmates for real-world jobs, the two bodies are at odds over whether CSC’s efforts are likely to achieve this goal.
- Canada’s prison system needs Muslim preachers to help rehabilitate those whose religion has been used to radicalize them.
- Reports that the number of inmates housed in segregation in Canadian federal prisons has increased significantly have led to criticism of CSC’s approach to managing difficult inmates.
- California’s excessive use of long-term solitary confinement in its prisons has led to a widespread hunger strike. Now, a court has given permission to force feed the inmates.
- The proportion of inmates housed in segregation who are mentally ill is increasing in Colorado prisons.
- The Canadian government says it is pushing forward with plans to place more restrictions on temporary releases of federal inmates despite arguments by CSC that the program is effective and promotes public safety.
- This letter to the editor argues that the Canadian government’s claim that temporary absences are a form of ‘parole by the back door” is inaccurate and unfair.
- As this chart suggests, prison overcrowding is a problem in many countries.
- Manitoba’s jails are being criticized for overcrowding and lack of mental health services.
- As California continues to reduce its prison population as per a court order, this author observes that no attention is going to fixing the system that led to the problems in the first place.
- More than half of American states have cut imprisonment rates between 2006 to 2011, says this Pew Report.
- New research suggests that the burden of improved conditions in state prisons may be borne by welfare recipients.
- The Philippines is preparing to drastically increase prison staff and to upgrade their professional credentials.
- A recent report has concluded that the inmates run all 24 prisons in Honduras, apparently with government concurrence.
- An Oxford University study says that there is evidence that Yoga can provide inmates with reduced stress levels and improve scores on measures of control of attention and impulsive behaviour.
- The Sentencing Project follows a number of interesting issues in the context of imprisonment, mass incarceration, Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law, and the imprisonment of minorities. They offer free subscription to their newsletter.
- This lecture provides an overview of organized crime including tips for police on how to take advantage of criminal personality traits.
- New research suggests that adolescent bullies are more likely to become adult criminals. Moreover, it appears that victims of bullying are also more likely to engage in criminal behavior as adults.
- It appears that childhood media consumption is not related to later criminality. However, genetic factors combined with a harsh upbringing were a significant predictor while maternal affection was a protective factor.
- Here is an interesting article and interview with Adrian Raine, a leading proponent of the view that crime has a strong biological component.
- This interview considers how officials can better predict criminal recidivism thanks to advancements in neuro-imaging.
- As evidence accumulates implicating neurological and biological functioning as precursors to crime, the question becomes: what do we do about it?
- This commentary argues that high criminal recidivism rates are influenced by our failure to help offenders reintegrate to the community. And this panel discusses the legal barriers offenders face when returning to the community.
- This researcher argues that although incidents of mass violence cannot be predicted, steps can be taken to reduce the risk of such incidents occurring.
- A new approach to predicting future violent behavior is showing promise with probationers.
- Neither criminal background checks nor pre-admission screening questions accurately predict students likely to commit crime on college campuses.
- Recent research suggests that psychopaths do not lack empathy; rather they can switch it on (and off) at will.
- A recent study of people who kill their own families has found that they are primarily men who fit one of four distinct profiles.
- A respected economist maintains that Wall Street is rife with criminal behavior that is largely ignored.
- A staff member at the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy at UBC is accused of embezzling over one million dollars.
- Apparently, 93% of retailers surveyed in the US report being victimized by organized retail crime in the last year.
- Here is an analysis of the role of the media in promoting crime … from a Chinese perspective.
- High youth unemployment rates in Europe are being blamed for an increase in crime, much of it against tourists.
- This writer comments on the increase in the rates of women involved in violence.
- Here is another report of a connection between lead levels and the crime rate. Lead absorption is linked to the destruction of reasoning faculties and a variety of behavioral deficits and has been consistently linked to upswings in crime rates.
Victims of Crime
- The first Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime offers an insightful assessment of the new Canadian cabinet as it relates to victim rights in Canada.
- The Government of Saskatchewan will be expanding its services to victims of crime such that every police jurisdiction in the province will be able to provide such services.
- A new study reports that victims of sexual assault in Canada have negative perceptions and expectations of the criminal justice system. Note that the link will take you to a PDF file with five articles related to victims and criminal justice. The study referenced here starts on page 12.
- This author considers whether the criminal justice systems in Canada and the U.S. are failing victims of sexual assault.
- This interesting op-ed piece considers the complexity of teen sex trafficking and the approaches to address it. And here is a second perspective on this same issue.
- Research is showing that being bullied has long-term consequences in terms of health, financial and employment problems.
- This important paper discusses the impact of including juveniles on sex offender registries.
- This article considers the wisdom of subjecting offenders, who have committed a sexual offense as a juvenile, to the adult civil commitment system as sexually violent predators.
- There is growing evidence that sex offender registration and community notification has little effect on public safety.
- A recent study has documented the impact of residency restrictions for sex offenders.
- An Ohio Supreme Court ruling will mean that juveniles convicted of sex offenses will no longer have to register for life.
- A new study challenges the view that online sexual predators are a distinctly dangerous variety of sex offender, requiring special programs to protect youth.
- In addition to being listed on public registries, some sex offenders in a Florida county will now have personalized, bright red signs erected outside their homes.
- In Iowa, some registered sex offenders are allowed to carry guns, although there is considerable opposition. One wonders about the NRA position on this issue.
- Despite widespread agreement among politicians and the community that prison is not the answer for those with mental illness, little seems to be changing.
- A recent US study has concluded that community mental health services can prevent arrests while saving money.
- A recent report from Australia argues that early access to mental health services could prevent crime cost-effectively. Access the full report here.
- A recent evaluation of mental health courts in Michigan has demonstrated significant improvements in recidivism, mental health, education, and job outcomes. The full report is available here.
- The Treatment Advocacy Centre has issued a report on mental health diversion practices in the US. They conclude that one-third of states get a “D” or an “F”.
- This broadcast describes the bail process for individuals with mental illness and details the responsibilities of supporting family members.
- A prominent BC forensic psychiatrist discusses how the intersection of mental health and the law has changed over 30 years and calls for political changes to develop a system that focuses on prevention and protection rather than punishment.
- The rapid rise in acceptance of marijuana worries those who point to a lack of research on the drug’s potential dangers, especially to the young.
- There is a growing move to define and treat drug and alcohol addiction in purely medical terms.
- A recent study has concluded that childhood ADHD is, at best, a weak predictor of later criminality. However, childhood physical aggression was quite predictive. The full report is available here.
- This article reacts to the apparently very low reliability of diagnosing individuals using the new DSM V.
- Public policy can be driven by facts, but often by myths that are generally believed to be fact. This article describes research trying to understand how myths become facts.
- Why does misinformation (e.g., Obama’s birthplace) seem so resistant to correction, and how can it be changed?
- Here is a comprehensive report on the use and limitations of the polygraph.
- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has adopted a report from its task force on criminal justice calling for significant system reform.
- Ice cream lovers bewail! When ice creams sales are up in New Orleans, so is the incidence of homicide!
- While it is widely believed that adolescents have a greater tolerance for risky behavior, recent research has found this not to be the case. Rather, adolescents are poorer at judging the effects of their behavior.
- Four global economists study the accumulation of income by the richest one percent and ask why has the income level doubled for the top 1% in the US when it has not in other parts of the world.
- Four scholars from Harvard and Berkeley have done some retrospective study on social capital and poverty.
- Social enterprises are key to economic regeneration says this British MP. He points to some efforts in Portugal, a country with desperate unemployment, for ideas for job creation using social enterprise approaches.
- Here’s an article on the decline in the life of organizations and associations – churches, political connections, civic associations and a suggestion that social media is anything but social.
- Research suggests that empathy can inhibit the ability to think analytically, and vice versa.
- Finally, on the “lighter” side, here is an amazing video of bank robbers escaping.
Did You Know?
The Smart Justice Network is a consortium of volunteers to promote a vision of responsible justice in Canada. It was created by a number of concerned individuals who have or are working in the justice system. Smart Justice puts out a daily bulletin of topical news items. Smart Justice can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Smart Justice is also on Facebook.
The BCCJA Island Branch is an active Branch of the BCCJA located largely in the south Vancouver Island. Get involved! For additional up to date information on Vancouver Island activities at any time, click on the VICJA button at www.bccja.com.
The Canadian Criminal Justice Association (CCJA) is our national organization and has existed since 1919. CCJA publishes the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, quarterly Justice Reports, and an electronic newsletter regularly. Their website includes book reviews and position papers on important topics of relevance to criminal justice. Take a few minutes to update yourself on the information available on their website. Their periodic electronic newsletter provides a quick scan of issues before government and items in the public eye.
Important Sources and Resources
The Justice Institute of British Columbia specializes in justice and public safety agency training and education. Its’ library is a premier source of academic and experiential training information. For instance, visit the Library site for a prepared bibliography on a wide range of topics: gangs, bullying, critical incident stress, emergency management, etc.
The Vera Institute of Justice is a research body which we have quoted in the BCCJA newsletter in the past. The Institute has begun a newsletter to help popularize some of its findings. You can link to the June issue here.
The National Institute of Corrections‘ excellent website gives access to a wide variety of materials related to criminal behavior and corrections issues. We found the “Library” tab an excellent start.
Restorative Justice BC has an excellent website as a resource of interest to practitioners, community partners and others with an interest in restorative justice, who are wanting to stay up to date on current issues and practices. As an example, the latest newsletter from Restorative Justice International is available on their web-site.
JusticeBC.ca has been created by the British Columbia government “… to ensure the right information and services are available for people who become involved with the criminal justice system in B.C.” It’s a good resource for everyone, with information on legal assistance, jury duty, corrections and court services, plus more……
As part of its Domestic Violence Action Plan, the Government of B.C. has developed a new web portal of resources for victims of domestic violence to help them get the support they need. Click here for the website. The following is another site that provides a wealth of information on preventing domestic and sexual violence.
The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder website is for justice system professionals and provides important excellent information on such matters as identification, causal factors, legal resources and effective intervention strategies.
Changing Directions, Changing Lives: A Mental Health Strategy for Canada was launched on May 12, 2012 by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. The Commission exists to promote mental health in Canada, and works with stakeholders to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems, and to improve services and support. Check their web-site for a series of audio-visual clips on the Strategy, and also for important information regarding a number of key initiatives.